Add parallel Print Page Options

10 Samuel took a vial of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head, anointing him, and then kissed him.

Samuel: The Eternal One of Israel has anointed you as ruler over His possession, over all Israel. [You will be king over the people of the Eternal One, and you will deliver them from the enemies that surround them now. And this will be the sign to you that I am speaking truth, and God has anointed you king over what is His]:[a] when you leave me today, you will meet two men not far from Rachel’s tomb, in Benjamin’s territory at Zelzah. These men will tell you, “The donkeys you sought have been found. Your father has stopped worrying about them, and now he is worried about you. He asks, ‘But what about my son?’” When you leave them behind and reach the oak of Tabor, you will meet three men going to sacrifice to God at Bethel. One will have three young goats; one will have three loaves of bread; another will have a skin full of wine. They will greet you and offer you two of the loaves of bread. Take them, and go on. When you leave them behind and reach the Philistine garrison at the hill of God (Gibeath-elohim), just as you come into the city, you will meet a group of prophets returning from the high place. Musicians leading them will be playing harps, tambourines, flutes, and lyres; and the prophets will be caught up in prophetic ecstasy. Then the Spirit of the Eternal One will overtake you, you will be caught up in the same prophetic spirit as these prophets, and you will be changed into a different person. When these signs come to pass, do what you think is best. The True God is with you. Go down to Gilgal ahead of me. I will come to present peace sacrifices and burnt offerings. Wait for seven days, and I will show you what to do.

As Saul turned to leave Samuel, the True God transformed his heart. As a result, all that Samuel had predicted came to pass that day. 10 When Saul came up to the hill of God, he met a band of prophets; and as Samuel had said, the Spirit of God overtook him, and he was caught up in their prophetic ecstasy.

11 Then the people who knew him saw that he began to prophesy with the prophets.

People (among themselves): What has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul one of the prophets now?

Local Citizen: 12 And who is their father?

This is one way the saying, “Is Saul one of the prophets?” originated.

13 When Saul finished prophesying, he went to a high place to a local shrine.

14 When Saul returned home, his uncle asked him and his servant where they had been.

Saul: We went to look for the donkeys. When we couldn’t find them, we spoke with the seer, Samuel.

Uncle: 15 What did Samuel tell you?

Saul: 16 He told us that the donkeys had been found.

But Saul did not tell him anything about the kingdom or anything else Samuel had said.

Why is Saul chosen as the first king? He is from the tiny tribe of Benjamin, so he seems to be outside the mainstream of political power. But he is a handsome and tall young man, meaning he is appealing in appearance and able to inspire confidence in warriors. At this first appearance, it even seems as if his inner qualities might match his outer qualities—God transforms him and gives him the power to prophesy—but as the story goes on, his insecurities and his jealousy of David are his undoing.

17 Sometime later Samuel called the people to come and gather in the presence of the Eternal One at Mizpah. 18 He stood before the Israelites with an important message.

Samuel: Listen to what the Eternal One, the God of Israel, has to say to you: “I brought Israel up from Egypt and rescued you from Egyptian bondage, and then I delivered you from all of the nations that sought to burden you.” 19 Today, though, you have rejected the True God who has saved you from every disaster and distress, and you have asked for a king to rule over you. If that is what you want, then line up by tribe and clan in front of the Eternal One.

20 So Samuel brought all of the tribes of Israel in front of him, and he chose the tribe of Benjamin by drawing lots. 21 Then he sorted through the clans of the tribe of Benjamin by the same method, and the clan of the Matrites was chosen. [Within that clan, he brought each man forward one by one,][b] and Saul, son of Kish, was chosen. But when they looked for him, he was nowhere to be found.

22 So they asked the Eternal One if the man had yet arrived.

Eternal One: Look! He has hidden himself among the baggage.

23 Then they hurried to find him and bring him in front of the people; and when he emerged, he stood head and shoulders above everyone else.

Samuel (to the people): 24 Do you see the man whom the Eternal One has chosen for you as king? No one else among the people of Israel can compare to him.

People (cheering and chanting): Long live the king!

25 Samuel informed the people about the rights and responsibilities of the king, and he wrote all these details in a book that he placed in the presence of the Eternal One. Then he sent all the people to their homes. 26 Saul, too, went home to Gibeah, accompanied by a group of warriors who had been moved by the True God to accompany him. 27 Still, some worthless skeptics and unbelievers asked, “How can this no-name from Benjamin protect us?” and they refused to honor him with an appropriate gift. But Saul kept silent.

[At that time, Nahash, the king of the Ammonites, tyrannized the men of the tribes of Dan and Reuben, putting out one of each man’s eyes and denying the possibility of their deliverance. Not one of the Israelites across the Jordan still had both his eyes, but 7,000 men had escaped from this conflict and reached Jabesh-gilead.][c]


  1. 10:1 Hebrew manuscripts omit this portion.
  2. 10:21 Hebrew manuscripts omit this portion.
  3. 10:27 This portion appears in the LXX; most ancient texts omit it.

Bible Gateway Recommends